Last week, I had the opportunity to explore a Breckenridge adventure with a private guide. Ben Pleimann, who works not only as an instructor and private mountain guide, but also trains other instructors, guided and instructed me during a memorable day on the slopes. Hiring (or in this case, getting matched compliments of Vail resorts) a private guide gives you the most flexibility for your day. You don’t need to worry about rushing to meet up at the ski school at a particular time; you dictate the time, place, and content of your adventure. Some people like hiring a guide or instructor because they need tips on technique. Others use a guide simply to cut lift lines. For those that can afford it, this can come in handy during peak times like Christmas week or the upcoming President’s Day weekend.
I wasn’t really sure what a day with a “Breck Guide” would entail, so I had low expectations at the outset. I thought maybe the guide would take me around to the different peaks or places I hadn’t been on the mountain. Little did I know that the guides are also certified instructors, so my Breckenridge adventure could be not only a day of exploration, but also learning. My only agenda item was getting the elusive “7-10 split pin” from EpicMix (earned by taking one lift only on peaks 7,8,9 and 10 in order).
Preparation and Introduction
The day before my guided experience, the folks at Vail Resorts checked with me to see where I was coming from and when/where I wanted to meet. I told them where my accommodations were, and we came up with a convenient time and place. Ben and I met at the appointed time and place and I explained how I used to be obsessed with the EpicMix app. During the year or two of my obsession, I made several attempts at earning the 7-10 Split pin. A friend even mapped out specifically which runs and lifts to take in which order. Sadly, we did not achieve the pin despite that day’s planning, because one of the lifts didn’t read my pass.
Before embarking on our grand Breckenridge adventure, Ben took me down a few easy runs to get a sense of my skiing and how I could improve. I was impressed that Ben did his homework: he had read my article about my Keystone lesson day and made some notes about drills and things we could do. We knocked out the 7-10 Split pin by about 10:30, then focused more on form and improvements. Ben suggested that by the end of the day, I would be able to ski down a double black diamond. I was skeptical and a little freaked out at the thought. However, as a goal-oriented person, I appreciated the “stretch goal.”
We took a break at Breck’s new Pioneer Crossing at the top of Peak 7. I loved the quesadilla bar, where they make your quesadillas to order! Pioneer Crossing offers several other “stations” as well as some grab-and-go options like pre-made sandwiches and salads. We re-fueled and plotted out the afternoon.
I realized that in the afternoon I was learning more than skills for improved skiing. Skiing with a guide also helped me learn the mountain itself, gaining confidence as I did. Ben truly showed me the ins and outs the mountain. We took some cool and uncrowded runs with powdery snow, and encountered the ominous Horseshoe Bowl.
By the end of the day, I made it down a double-black diamond. It wasn’t super pretty at first, but I did it! Ben was even nice enough to ski me back “home” at the end of the day. This involved going down to a tricky, hard-to-find path back to my condo. I am grateful for my awesome Breckenridge adventure with Ben. I would highly recommend the guided experience. A guided Breckenridge adventure will benefit anyone who wants to make the most of a day on the mountain while improving technical skiing ability.